COVID-19, as we all know, is testing the limits of science, healthcare, economies and societies. The global health emergency is affecting 216 Countries and territories. There is no specific vaccine or drug available for the treatment of COVID-19. Worldwide, the coronavirus has already infected over 8.5 million people and killed more than 450,000 as of June 19, 2020. India is in the 4th place with more than 380,000 Covid-19 cases with 12,500 deaths. Billions of US dollars are being spent on discovering new vaccines and drugs to arrest the pandemic.
To discuss various scientific aspects of this health emergency, SRM University Delhi-NCR in collaboration with Nature India organised a virtual discussion on 19 June 2020. Prof. Peter C. Doherty, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine from the University of Melbourne in Australia was the lead speaker while Padma Bhushan Prof. G. P. Talwar, Padma Bhushan Prof. N. K. Ganguly, Padma Shri Prof. V. S. Chauhan and Prof. V. M. Katoch joined as panel members. The lead discussant was Subhra Priyadarshini, Chief Editor of Nature India.
Shri Ravi Pachamoothoo, Hon’ble Chancellor of SRM University Delhi-NCR and Chairman of SRM Group formally opened the session.
Prof. Doherty spoke on the implications of COVID-19 on global health and economies. On the zoonotic origin of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV 2, he said shrinking forest area is increasing the exposure of humans to various animals thereby facilitating the spread of diseases faster, as seen in the case of HIV in Africa. Human issues such as population size, pressure on food supplies and deeply embedded cultural practices could be triggers for zoonotic diseases, he said.
Prof. Doherty said the world should have learnt a lesson from the SARS and MERS outbreaks and started developing broad-spectrum class-specific antivirals for coronaviruses long back in order to be much more ready for the COVID-19 pandemic. He said just as the CEPI (Centre for Epidemic Preparedness Initiative) has platform technologies for vaccine development, there should be a CEPI for drug development.
Subhra Priyadarshini broached important discussions spanning the latest in vaccine development, new drugs, antimicrobial resistance, immunology, genetics and many other burning aspects of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
For the detailed discussion, click here.